Signora Paris


I have been to stay with my mother in Umbria for 8 days. It was very sunny and I ate many figs from the tree in the garden.

I also went to church with my mother on Sunday. I don’t believe in god, but I do believe in sitting quietly, making my mother happy for the company and intently watching the goings-on. I particularly like going to San Fortunato – it is a Franciscan abbey near to Assisi, where the nuns of Santa Chiara of Assisi were accommodated while their basilica was mended following the 1997 earthquake. This, combined with the fact that Santa Chiara herself is the patron saint of television means that my imagination constantly hosts the greatest telenovella of all time about the abbey. Despite the nuns being known as the Poor Clares on account of Santa Chiara’s devotion to poverty, this telenovella is pretty hot.

A Poor Clare. I do not think they paint their nails.

But not as hot as what I witnessed on Sunday. Shortly before the mass began, a tall, tottering blonde slowly made her way to the front pew. She was a mixture of Alexis Colby, Miss Havisham and David Walliams: delirium-inducingly glamorous, defiantly sad and, um, a bit draggy. I was transfixed. Who was she?

“That is Signora Paris” my mother explained. “She only ever wears entirely black, entirely white or entirely red. She has suffered a great sadness, so now her life is devoted to fashion.”


Indeed, she was working a look that did suggest fashion as therapy: a sheer lace black crossover top with an elaborate bra beneath, a wide leather belt, and a floor length black silk skirt with a cascade of ruffles running its entire length. Her make up was a little ‘Princess Tiaamii’ and, as my mother hastily informed me

“She is never seen in anything less that forgive-me-Jesus-for-what-I-am-about-to-say-but-you-know-I-know-there-is-no-other-way-to-say-it: Fuck Me Shoes.”

Signora Paris (Yes, it's another amazing photograph. I was pretending to PRAY, okay?)

She was correct. But what was the most obvious to me was – inevitably – her manicure. She had nine, glistening red Alexis Colby nails … but the index finger on her left hand was short like a child’s. It was without polish and horribly gnawed. Signora Paris is indeed nursing great pain. It makes me want to cry just thinking about her.


One Response to “Signora Paris”

  1. 1 Clare Bennett

    That is it, I am leaving to join the other Poor Clares, so we can all sit around watching telly and helping the poor – this is my life anyway.

    ps a woman who neglects one nail has problems and I mean serious ones. Signora Paris, hang in there, soldier.

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